British holidaymaker paralysed in Spanish waterslide accident can talk again as he arrives home – Daily Mail
David Briffaut, 23, has begun to communicate with family members after being taken off sedation following a freak accident on a Spanish waterslide
A British holidaymaker who was left mute and paralysed after a freak accident at a Spanish waterpark has begun to talk again.
The family of 23-year-old David Briffaut shared encouraging news that he was able to communicate with relatives after coming off of life support and being transported back to the UK.
David, a talented junior golfer, had been visiting Aqualandia water park while on holiday with his girlfriend Penny Bristow when he was involved in a freak accident.
Coming head-first down a waterslide alongside Penny, terrifying video footage shows his head snap forwards as he hit the water.
He lost consciousness for a minutes before he was rushed to hospital by ambulance and kept in an intensive care unit.
After at first being put onto a life-support machine, news has emerged of David partially recovering his ability to speak.
David’s uncle Mark Pooley confirmed the hopeful news in a statement.
‘David is back in the UK, having been transferred by air ambulance to a British hospital today,’ said Mr Pooley.
‘He is no longer under sedation and we are encouraged by the fact that he has been able to communicate with members of the family.
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Promising golfer David Briffaut is seen whizzing down the Splash’ slide at Aqualandia water park in Benidorm on July 8 seconds before landing head first in the pool and snapping his neck
‘We would like to thank everybody who has provided us with support during this difficult time, including the British Consulate in Alicante, the Hospital General Universitari d’ Alacant, and Axa Insurance; plus all those who have kindly donated towards David’s long-term care via his JustGiving page.’
His family have warned that he could be paralysed from the chest down from the incident in which he broke two vertebrae in his neck and suffered a spinal cord injury.
David’s parents Lorraine and Stephane joined him at his bedside at a hospital in Alicante on the Costa Brava where it is not known how much of a recovery he will be able to make.
In the chilling footage David and a friend reach the end of a slide where David’s head snaps forward as he enters the water. Moments later he was rescued from the water after losing conciousness
Lorraine told MailOnline: ‘We are living in every parents’ nightmare. Our son went on holiday with his girlfriend and we have been told he might never walk again. All we can do now is pray that he can recover.
‘He is sedated but is aware what has happened to him. David is getting fantastic care at the hospital but we want to get him home to England as soon as he can be moved.’
Footage taken of the incident David and girlfriend Penny enjoy a ride on one of the waterslides in the park in western Spain.
David (pictured with Penny) was on life support with his family warned he could be paralysed from the chest down after breaking two vertebrae in his neck and suffering a spinal cord injury
As friends filmed them from the bottom of the slide named ‘Splash’, David and Penny lie down on red mats and prepare to launch off.
The pair speed down the slide side by side laughing as the family friend records the fun moment.
As David reaches the end of the ride the short video appears to show David’s head snap forward as he hits the water.
MailOnline has chosen not to show the moment of impact in respect to the family.
The video was released with permission of the family who have called for an investigation into the safety of the slide at one of the world’s biggest waterparks.
Uncle Mark Pooley said David’s parents visited the waterpark after arriving in Spain to see where the accident took place and were stunned to see the Splash ride still open.
‘Given what has happened we would have thought there would be some investigation so that it does not happen again,’ said Mark.
‘It just does not seem possible that a young man can go on holiday and come back paralysed for life.’
His mother Lorraine, 55, a teacher, has been unable to watch the video as it is too distressing.
His girlfriend Penny is said to be ’emotionally all over the place’.
David, who was on holiday with his girlfriend Penny Bristow (pictured) when the incident happened lost consciousness and was pulled from the water before being taken to hospital
Lorraine said: ‘We are in the hands of the doctors and just have to wait and see. He is getting excellent care, but would like to bring him home as soon as possible.
‘All we can do is pray and hope that there is some recovery. We have been told David cannot feel anything from the chest down. Sometimes these are injuries from which the body does recover and that is what we can hope for.’
The Aqualandia water park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Benidorm and open all year round.
The rides at the park are rated in three different categories; infant, moderate, and radical. Children under six are encouraged to be accompanied by an adult on the infant and moderate rides.
Two rides fall into the faster, radical category – ‘Bang Bang’ and Verti-Go, which reaches speeds of 100km/h as they descend down a 100m slide in three seconds.
The Splash ride – featuring six slides side by side – is rated as a moderate ride on Aqualandia’s website.
A crowd funding appeal set up by the Briffaut family has managed to raise £79,000 for funds to help in the care and treatment of David when he returns home.
Appealing for funds, the page says: ‘Our thoughts and our prayers are with David and his family. The catastrophic injuries mean that David will need life-long care. His life has changed and so has the lives of those closet to him.
‘His parents home will need to be remodelled for disability access, specialised treatment and new treatments will need to be explored and of course many other unforseen expenses covered. In short we want to do everything within our capabilities to raise as much money as possible to enable David to get the best possible care and better his life in whatever way we can.’
The Splash ride (pictured) – featuring six slides side by side – where the accident happened is rated as a moderate ride on Aqualandia’s website. It continued to stay open after the incident. A spokesman for Aqualandia told MailOnline that it is ‘simply false’ to suggest that the ride is unsafe
A spokesman for Aqualandia told MailOnline that it is ‘simply false’ to suggest that the ride is unsafe.
They said that before opening the park each season, an external company makes an exhaustive review of all the slides. Beyond this, park staff check them every morning.
‘Moreover, we have video footage which shows Mr Briffaut didn’t follow the guidelines for Splash,’ the spokesman said.
‘Aqualandia has a long, 34-year history and safety is out top priority. Our rules and recommendations are clearly displayed all the park and must be adhered to by our visitors,’ they added.